27 December, 2017 China on Tuesday agreed to spread its aggressive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) till Afghanistan as the 3 nations vowed to boost counter terrorism cooperation and not permit any nation, group or person to utilize their territories for terror acts.
In the first conference of its type since the 3 sides consented to set up a trilateral dialogue scheme in June, foreign minister of China Wang Yi, his Afghan partner Salahuddin Rabbani and Pakistan counterpart Khawaja Asif gathered here and talked matters regarding their interests. Supervising over the negotiations, Wang said China and Pakistan would desire to stretch the more than $50 billion CPEC to Afghanistan after arriving at “slow consensus”.
He said China and Pakistan are ready to operate with Afghanistan, based on win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an adequate means to spread the CPEC to Afghanistan. The 3 countries could arrive at gradual consensus, tackling simpler, tinier projects first, Wang said. In his address, Asif mentioned about CPEC, detailing it as a flagship project of China’s earnest Belt and Road Initiative but stayed silent on its expansion to Afghanistan.
“The positive implementation of CPEC projects will act as a model for advancing connectivity and co-operation through similar projects in adjoining nations like Afghanistan, Iran and central and west Asia,” he added. China’s propsal to stretch CPEC has significance from India’s viewpoint in the light of strong opposition by New Delhi to the project which passes through PoK. The proposal assumes importance against the background of India-Iran-Afghanistan schemes to furnish access to Afghanistan to utilize Iran’s Chabahar port situated nearby Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have decided to better their ties and to achieve harmonious co-existence, vowing to address their issues through extensive dialogue and consultation, Wang said. Pakistan’s scheme – to install working panels in politics, intelligence, military, economy and refugees – was supported by Afghanistan and China, state-operated Xinhua news agency mentioned. Without mentioning the US or India, Wang stated the trilateral discussion was not directed at any other party nor will it come under influence from different countries or powers. The negotiations will supplement other available mechanisms and promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the area, he said.
In his comments, Rabbani stressed the worth of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and peace, without precisely mentioning Kabul’s oft stated allegaions of Pakistan’s backing to Taliban and harboring its militants. They expressed their firm determination not to permit any country, agency of person to utilize their respective territories for terrorist activities against any other nations, a statement issued by the 3 nations stated. The so-called any nation or organization reference is noteworthy viewing that both the nations blame each other of inciting violence across their nations.
However, the 3 sides in their statement consented to consolidate their counter terrorism management and collaboration in their efforts to counter terrorist units as well as individuals. They also asserted that an extensive and inherent peace and compromise process, which is “Afghan-led, Afghan-own”, and totally backed regionally and globally, is the best solution to stop the unrest in Afghanistan. ” In this regard, they call on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date,” the statement mentioned.
China has increased efforts to strike peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan after US President Donald Trump proclaimed a recent south Asia policy accusing Islamabad for terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and India. Trump’s South Asia policy according importance to India and calling New Delhi to perform bigger role in rebuilding of Afghanistan has also raised eyebrows in Islamabad and Beijing.